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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Miss Shirley's Cafe

     This small but thriving franchise is a tribute by the founder to a former employee and personal friend, Shirley McDowell, whose love of life and cooking inspired those around her. The large space is bustling from early in the morning until its closing time at 3:00 pm.
     Breakfast and brunch are serious matters at Miss Shirley's. It's Southern food made into delicacies, naughty cocktails to be consumed on long wrap-around porches while fanning the sweet heat away, puffy three-egg omelettes made with your choice of ingredients from a list containing items such as goat cheese, avocado, cranberry-maple turkey sausage, and the number one Maryland staple, crab meat. Similar diversity is offered for the creation of salads, and pancake or waffle platters.
     Would that I could go into detail about some of the items I read on the menu- the Born On The Bay-O Bloody Mary, the Mac Crabby Bites, or Shirley's Affair with Oscar. But alas, I know I must restrain myself and describe only what I sampled. How I wish there was one of these in my city. I would be on a first name basis with every member of the staff. Especially the floor manager that walks around keeping the servers efficient and quick, and checks with patrons on a regular yet non-intrusive way.
      I ordered an omelette with goat cheese and smoked turkey. My side was the potato and onion hash. I flinched a bit as I took the first bite, considering my general dislike of restaurant omelettes. I always find them bland and unimaginative. Not this time.
These eggs were buttery and complemented the distinct smoky turkey and the salty cheese. The hash was shredded thick and gently sauteed, but sadly, missing flavor. The butter I was saving to boost the eggs ended up in the hash. The dish came with one of Miss Shirley's Benne Seed Peach and Goat Cheese Buttermilk Biscuits. These alone probably won them half their numerous awards.
     John ordered straight up scrambled eggs and bacon with stone ground grits and a biscuit. I tasted the grits, and they were sweet and rich and made me thankful to be alive. He plowed through the eggs, which usually means there were no objections nor anything remarkable. In contrast, he munched on his bacon with deliberate pleasure, which means it was perfectly balanced between chewy and crispy. Over the years I've learned to read between the lines when Hubby eats. I didn't have to make any inferences about his opinion of the biscuit. The eternal traditionalist was very vocal about letting me know that embedded peaches and goat cheese don't belong in a biscuit. To him, it's just wrong.
     I, on the other hand, love a twist on a staple and delight in experimentation. Consider me Miss Shirley's newest fan.

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  1. A couple of years ago I visited the Shirley's location in downtown Baltimore and it was so fabulous! I really need to go back again this summer.

    1. One visit is not enough, that's for sure. Thanks for visiting my blog, Karyl!